Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch): Ultimately, A Letdown (Detailed Review)

Super Smash bros. Ultimate | Box art

I enjoyed Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. I enjoyed it… but I also felt it was a let down in a number of ways, and I consider it the weakest in the series (with exception to the original which I haven’t played and thus can’t speak on).

I want to emphasize that most of my criticisms of Ultimate are as a single player experience, and that I couldn’t care less that you can’t doowop an skippity uppity airslap into a wavedashed cockdump sparklenut or spitshine a ledge canceled dickknob after twirlywhirly dibdidybobbidyboo 2: Electric Boogaloo. I am aware that fighting games are typically multi-player focused, but I never got into strictly multi-player games. Also there is the fact that the Switch now requires a subscription for online multi-player that I’ve heard isn’t an improvement over Smash 4’s free online. Read more

Aozora Meikyuu (PC): A Beautiful Trainwreck (Detailed Review)

Aozora Meikyuu | Title screen

Aozora Meikyuu is a short and brief ecchi visual novel by developer Yume Creations, a team name that I’m not sure exists because Dream Creations was taken by a rhinestone trimming company or if the devs were just total weebs. One can definitely get the impression that it is the latter since Yume Creation’s other games are also short ecchi visual novels with anime girls.  I want to make it clear I have nothing against anime tiddies and actually kinda liked Aozora Meikyuu, but it’s not a good game.

Aozora Meikyuu, which means “Blue Sky” in Japanese and leaves me once again unsure if the name was left in Japanese to avoid confusion with the similarly titled visual novel “Always the Same Blue Sky” that I also reviewed or if the devs are just total nerds, is something that I enjoyed in a “so bad its good” kind of way. More specifically, it is a poorly written and overall stupid mess, but it also has a unique charm that appeals to me as an otaku turned feminazi. Read more

Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Four (PC/360) – Through Hell and Back (Detailed Review)

Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Four | Tree

Oh the things you never expect. When I finished playing Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Three, I stated that I hoped that this game improved upon Episode Three the same way Episode Two improved on Episode One. While it is definitely fair to say that Episode Four was an improvement, I simply did not expect one of this magnitude. There are several things regarding this game that I did not expect.

It certainly does not do anything revolutionary nor does it look particularly innovative, but when you actually play it, you realize just how meticulously crafted this game is. Yes it may appear to be another parody of 16-bit era JRPGs, but it is so much more in terms of execution. Not only does it have the signature humor of Zeboyd’s games, but it also has a story that is actually compelling on its own merits. When you add an outstanding soundtrack by Hyperduck Soundworks, the same people behind the soundtrack of Dust: An Elysian Tale, and some of the most addicting and precise battle mechanics in any turn based RPG; you end up with a game that might as well have been made to silence anyone who said these types of games are only made to pander to nostalgia. Read more

Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Three (PC/360/Ios): Something Completely Different (Detailed Review)

Penny Arcade Adventures Episode Three | Logo

Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Three may be a jarring experience to those that have played the first two. This is the case with Episode Three because the development of these games shifted developers, from Hothead Games to Zeboyd. While Zeyboyd is a smaller development team and clearly does not have as high a budget as Hothead, they are still well known for their work on Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu saves the world. Being a huge fan of those games, I naturally had some high expectations for this game and I was hoping that this game would exceed the quality of both the previous Penny Arcade Adventures installments and Zeyboyd’s previous titles.

Instead, Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Three is a game that it is good in its own right and is definitely superior to the first Penny Arcade Adventures and Breath of Death, but does not hold a candle to Episode Two or Cthulhu Saves the World. It is hard to really say the game is a step back from Episode Two given that the games are quite a bit different, but in general, it does feel like a step down from the incredible experience that Cthulhu Saves the World offered. In addition, it feels like the game also suffers from simply not having the same budget as the first two Penny Arcade titles. When you add that Episode Three still retains some of the flaws of the earlier entries, you end up with a good game in its own right, but one that felt rather underwhelming. Read more

Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Two (PC/360/PS3): A Penny Saved… (Detailed Review)

Penny Arcade Adventires: Episode Two | Header

When I reviewed Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode One, I did not have much good to say about it. The game had a solid battle system and some amusing dialogue, but it was sorely lacking in just about every other area. The plot was incredibly tedious and the game itself was a major slog. At the end of that review, I stated that I had no interest in playing Episode Two as a result of the first game’s failure to provide a quality experience. However, I ended up changing my mind seeing as how I felt as if I should at least play this one if I was going to play Episodes Three and Four simply for the sake of having the full experience. I did not have high expectations going into Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Two, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Not only did I find Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Two to be a much more enjoyable experience than Episode One, but I would also say that it is among one of the better indie RPGs I have played. The funny thing about this, however, is that there really is not that much of a difference between Penny Arcade Adventures Episodes Two and One. At points, I have considered that I simply might have not been in a good mood when I played and reviewed the first game, but it turned out that Episode Two simply executed its various aspects better than the first game. In my review of the first game, I have criticized it for using a gameplay setup that I thought was inherently flawed. While technically my complaints do still apply, Episode Two did prove to me that it was indeed possible to make a good game out of that apparent “flawed system.” I am ultimately glad I decided to give this game a chance, and I encourage you to consider this one if the first game did not quite catch your interest. Read more

Fangame Review: (Mario) The Music Box – ARC

(Mario) The Music Box - ARC | Title Screen

CW: Violence and Gore.

The (Mario) The Music Box series is just so insane and absurd that I can’t get enough of it. The first installment was a solid Corpse Party clone marred only by having button mashing prompts that will make your arms fall off before completing the game. I did have some other complaints about unresolved plot points and a lack of relevance to the Mario canon, and the sequel, (Mario) The Music Box – ARC, takes those criticisms into account… in the weirdest way possible.

The first (Mario) The Music Box was a fairly standard Corpse Party clone but (Mario) The Music Box – ARC decides to abandon any semblance of sanity that remained in this series… if there was any to begin with. Read more

Banjo-Kazooie (N64/360): Rareware’s Masterpiece (Detailed Review)

Banjo-Kazooie | Mumbo Mountain

I posted my review of Yooka-Laylee almost two years ago. I had some very strong praises for it despite the fact that I had not even grown up with Banjo-Kazooie and was only familiar with the game through a lets play.That lets play was very appealing though and I loved the style of the game and everything, the only reason I didn’t play the game until now was because I didn’t own the systems it was for and didn’t know how to use emulators. What recently got me in the mood to finally check this game out was seeing a certain leftist video maker stream another Nintendo 64 Collectathon by Rare for close to three days straight to raise money for a UK charity for trans kids, and if that doesn’t inspire you to play some vidya then I don’t know what will.

Predictably as fuck, I immensely enjoyed Banjo-Kazooie but it wouldn’t be an AnnieGal review without at least one hot take; Yooka-Laylee is a better game. This really SHOULDN’T be a hot take because Yooka-Laylee was made close to two decades later with much more advanced technology, but we live in a world where Donald Trump is president and Yooka-Laylee is a “failure in every way.” As an aside, I will eventually make a full response to Derek Alexander’s review but I’d like to play Banjo-Tooie and Donkey Kong 64 for myself before that. Read more

Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line (NES/MSX/SNES/GBC/Mobile/3DS/PS4): A JRPG Codifier (Detailed Review)

Dragon Quest II | jp box art

Dragon Quest II is often glossed over when discussing the legacy of the series. While Dragon Quest I is noteworthy for being the first game in the series and Dragon Quest III is noteworthy for being motherfucking Dragon Quest III, Dragon Quest II just seems to be known as “that one that’s really really hard and comes between Dragon Quest I and III.” I often see people act as if Dragon Quest II is completely unremarkable and that is just not the case.

Dragon Quest II is a pretty badass game when you get right down to it. I should note that I have not played the NES original this time around and am thus only familiar with it from a lets play I saw years ago and from what I’ve looked up about it. From what I can gather the later versions definitely seem more polished and well structured, that is unless you are playing and English fan translation of the super famicom version that is. Read more

Hip Hop Album Review: Kamikaze (Eminem)

Kamikaze | album cover

I must say, I did not expect to be reviewing another Eminem album this soon after covering Revival. There was a four year gap between Revival and The Marshall Mathers LP 2, and there was a three year gap between The Marshall Mathers LP 2 and Recovery. Yet not even a full year has passed between the release of Revival and Kamikaze.

I had very high praises for Revival and I considered it to be one of his best albums if not THE best, but as usual for me this opinion turned out to be in the minority. Revival was among Eminem’s most panned albums since Relapse and a lot of people seemed to have hated it, and it was clear Em didn’t take it very well.

I don’t blame Em for his reaction given that Revival was meant to show him at his most vulnerable and human in a medium that is known for expecting its participants to be tough and stable. The very first track on Revival was about his fading relevance and his fears that he can’t own up to his prior legacy, and the poor reception of Revival likely didn’t alleviate those fears.

Kamikaze was clearly made in response to the poor reception of Revival and is meant to be a representation of Em going back on every bit of growth he had in the last decade or so and is instead a return to his roots. Instead of taking the high road, he decides he’s going to fire back at everyone who dissed him or talked shit about him regardless of the risks present. The title “Kamikaze” is a highly fitting title considering that this could be just as harmful to himself as it is to everyone else. He’s fully aware of just what could go wrong but has decided to go for it anyway. We will take a look at this track by track. Read more

Dragon Quest (NES/MSX/SNES/GBC/Mobile/3DS/PS4): A JRPG Pioneer (Detailed Review)

Dragon Quest | jp box art

Given the niche of people who read my stuff, I am sure most of you are aware of the impact the Dragon Quest series has on JRPGs as a whole. There is a strange sense of disconnect when thinking about how popular the series is in Japan when comparing its overseas releases. While the series is moderately popular in the west, the Dragon Quest series is pretty much mainstream in Japan. Today I am going to look at the game that started it all.

Prior to about a month ago, I have never played the first three Dragon Quest games (and still have not played the third as I am writing this). I beat the first Dragon Quest a few weeks ago and am very close to completing Dragon Quest 2. For the sake of context, the version I played through was the SNES version but I played a bit of the NES version until my emulator went kaput and made me lose all my progress. I plan to briefly talk about each version though and this piece is meant as a critique of the game overall. Read more